The President has authorized a program to provide smallpox vaccines to military and emergency personnel, and then to all Americans on a voluntary basis. The authorization suggests just how serious the potential threat is, given that the vaccine carries serious side effects. The Washington Post reports that
"[h]istorical data show that between 15 and 50 of every 1 million people vaccinated will suffer life-threatening complications and that one or two of them will die." Given these statistics, the President must have been advised the potential risk was too high not to go forward with the program.